Kevin Spacey spoke to an audience of more than 9,000 as the 2014 President's Speaker for the Arts. Sanjay Suchak/University Communications

Kevin Spacey Visits UVA

Speaks at JPJ about the importance of the arts

“Don’t be afraid to shake things up. No one ever breaks new ground by playing it safe,” actor Kevin Spacey advised an audience of more than 9,000 on Oct. 18 at John Paul Jones arena. Spacey, a two-time Academy Award winner, was this year’s President’s Speaker for the Arts at UVA. He sprinkled his speech with UVA references, at one point even high-fiving Allen Groves (Law ’90), dean of students. When discussing the role of ambition in the arts world, Spacey quoted Frank Underwood, the power-loving, manipulative character he plays in the Netflix series House of Cards. But he also emphasized the importance of generosity among artists, quoting his mentor, Jack Lemmon. “If you’ve been successful in your chosen path, then you should help those who are just starting out,” he said. “Jack coined the phrase ‘sending the elevator back down.’”

Vashti Harrison

Alumna Filmmaker’s Short Film Screens at Multiple Festivals

Folk tales fascinated Vashti Harrison (Col ’10) when she was a child. In 2010, when she was 22, she visited her mothers’ homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, where, she says, “folktales, ghost stories and myths weave their way into the culture and landscape. It became clear that this was where I needed to be making work.” Harrison, who studied with filmmaker Kevin Everson at UVA, went on to get an MFA in film from California Institute of the Arts. She recently screened her new short film, Field Notes, which she describes as “a visual and aural field guide to the ghosts of Trinidad and Tobago,” at the New York Film Festival and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, where it won Best Local Short Film. The film also showed at the Virginia Film Festival in November, and will have its German, Canadian and African premieres at the end of this year.

James Salter Dan Addison/University Communications

James Salter Teaches at UVA for Fall Semester

Fiction and screenwriter James Salter, whose novels include Light Years, The Hunters, A Sport and a Pastime and All That Is, served as writer-in-residence at UVA this past fall semester, teaching a graduate workshop on fiction and delivering three public talks related to the art and craft of writing. UVA established the Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program last year in the tradition of William Faulkner’s legendary residencies in 1957 and ’58. Salter, 89, said in his first lecture that the voice of a writer exists long after his or her death  because “you’re not seeing or hearing anything as you read … but you believe you are.”